Nicki Parrott

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Nicki Parrott

Birdland, NYC, May 22, 2018

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Nicki Parrott

In between the realms of cool jazz and smooth jazz there might well be a place called laid-back jazz, and into this territory falls bassist-vocalist Nicki Parrott. The Australian native has an ultra-relaxed style, employing steady, even tempos set to a light swing that occasionally strays into pushing the rhythm harder.

Her opener, “Hallelujah I Love Him So,” was delivered in her easy manner, followed by an up-tempo swing instrumental of “It’s All Right with Me.” Nice and easy does it was the byword for the set, with mellow offerings that included “Besame Mucho,” “Remember” as a jazz waltz, and “Rainbow Connection.” Parrott’s vocals are accomplished and her bass playing is top-drawer. She has the uncanny ability to make the instrument come alive as if animated with its own life force.

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Vocally, she’s reminiscent of Blossom Dearie, tipping her hat to the late singer with “Let Me Love You.” Only Parrott’s voice is smokier, smoother, and occasionally on the sultry side.

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Like many singing players, the instrument often informs phrasing. Her bass solo on “The Man I Love” paralleled her relaxed yet plucky delivery of the lyric. She actually began musical training on the piano, at age four, switched to the flute, and settled on the upright bass at age 15. It was Les Paul who encouraged her to sing about 18 years ago. Jazz singers aren’t invested in a lot of narrative, and Parrott was no exception. It’s about the music. Another instrumental, Antonio Carlos (Tom) Jobim’s “Chega de Saudade” with its lively bossa beat, showcased the exquisite piano of John di Martino, Harry Allen’s tenor sax, and Alvin Atkinson’s drumming. Atkinson astounded on “Sing” by playing melody lines—a huge treat to hear on this happy closing number.

Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women.